Monday, April 23, 2012
Chapter 17: My mind must be somewhere
Chapter 17: My mind must be somewhere (Wattpad)
Still cross-legged on the couch, I tore the page from my spring notebook and crumbled it. I wrote the current date at the top of the new sheet and pretended the pile of other crumpled papers on my side didn’t exist.
My mind must be somewhere.
I took a deep breath and held it in for three seconds before exhaling. I checked the time – seven-fifteen. It’s been hours – hours – since that…incident and I still can’t breathe properly and my heart was still skipping. What the hell is wrong with me? I should be writing a reaction paper on history. Okay, focus. I picked my pen up and wrote on the first line. History…was full…of tragedy. Catchy. That’s good. I took a deep breath again and convinced myself this is just a piece of cupcake.
“Since when do you know yoga?” Dad came towards me and sat on the other couch by my side, only the low table between us. Before I could answer, Mom said, “Charlie, you would know if our daughter knew yoga.” She still concentrated on preparing the dinner over at the table while speaking.
“She looks flushed – she must’ve been doing yoga. Right, my dear?” he asked me, smiling. Oh, no. This is dangerous. I tried my best not to let my inner apprehension show on my face as Mom glanced up to me. I forced a smile. “Right, yoga.” I paused, but couldn’t help it any longer, “I need to go to the bathroom for a second.” I stood up before I heard the both of them assent and I restrained myself from running up the stairs and lock myself in the bathroom. Once I was safely inside, I shut the door close and leaned on it.
That guy is going to kill me one of these days. Stroke, possibly. Or stress. Either way, the finger points to him and all I need to do is write a death note and he’ll be arrested for good.
I looked around the space of our tiled bathroom. To my right is the shower with the blinds and to the left is the toilet. Directly in front of me is the counter with the sink and the mirror above it, which covers the entire wall. I walked forward and swept a hand through my messed-up hair. Dad was right – I’m blushing like hell.
I put my hands on my hips. This has to stop. It’s not healthy. It’s just a kiss, for Christ’s sake. But then there was one after that…and after that.
And after that.
I took deep breaths again to control my breathing. Why am I even affected by that rich, adventurous, insane person?
Okay, so if he’d kiss other girls before and if they’re suffering like I am right now then great. Otherwise…I’m just an idiot. Face it, Avery. I breathed in and out. You’re just an inexperienced moron.
I opened the door and walked the length of the floor all the way down the stairs. Immediately, I went to the dining and sat down. “It looks great, Mom.” She smiled in response as Dad sat down and led the prayer without any prodding from anybody.
When I put the fork of steamed fish in my mouth, my taste buds danced tango in joy. Mom’s cooking skills are awesome.
“Sylv, honey, the camera’s with you right? For tomorrow?” Dad asked while eating. Mom nodded, “Upstairs in my duffel bag.” While they continued speaking, my thoughts wandered to something else entirely.
Oh, God. That was the most unexplainable moment of my life. I quickly poured myself a glass of water and downed it in five seconds. I got more water as the time where we were getting ready to leave the park replayed in my head. Oh, God.
We were walking back to his Jaguar as the sun was setting down on the horizon. What happened minutes ago from that blasted maple tree had me blushing like crazy and Travis was till laughing at it. I must be out of my fucking mind.
Why the hell did I let him do that?
I should’ve screamed like my life depended on it. I should’ve.
“I’d be happy to do that again, but I’m worried that your cheeks would burst to flames.” He grinned at me contentedly.
“It’s not funny! I don’t know what happened back then. I must be insane.”
“Hey.” He tilted my chin up while walking, “Don’t be sad. I don’t know for you, but for me, that was pretty amazing.” I blushed deeper.
I did a gesture with my head that could be a nod or something. It was probably a something, not a nod. He smiled a little and released my chin, holding me by the shoulder tighter. This is ludicrous.
When the Jaguar came to view under the oak tree from earlier today, I sighed from intense relief. Going home is a miracle. I reached the vehicle before he did and finally, he came.
He unlocked the driver’s door after the beep-beep of the car and brought out the Polaroid that had been haunting my dreams.
“Finally. So what’s the mystery all about?” I asked him.
“It’s still a surprise. But I’ll be taking a lot of pictures of the both of us from now on.” The words hung in the air as they slowly entered and registered in my brain.
“Yes, my genius. You and me.” He grinned as if everything’s okay with the world.
“And you won’t answer when I ask why because it’s a surprise?” I assumed quickly, expecting the worst. “You’re sharp as a knife.” He winked, confirming my fears.
What can he do with a bunch of pictures with my face on it? He’s not an assassin, is he? Travis raised the camera to eye level and took three steps back.
“Smile, darling. Your blush looks wonderful.”
I can’t help laughing at the ‘darling’ part. That was one hundred percent cliché! Midlaugh, I saw him snap the picture. The hard copy immediately sprung from the front and before anything else, I grabbed it, not giving him a chance to look.
“Hey!” he tried to reach for it, but I turned my back on him and surveyed the photo myself. Two things – whoa, that’s me? And the second is that Travis mustn’t get his hands on this. He said,
“Give it back.” He placed the camera on top of his car and encircled his arms around my torso from behind and momentarily lifted me in the air. I shrieked and tried to break loose the moment my shoes made contact with the ground.
“I look hideous, trust me – ”
“Our eyes are different, Avery. And you’re biased so maybe I should see for myself.” He tried to grab it again but I ended up with my back on him, facing the car and trying to open the car door.
He turned me around by the shoulders and I was pinned by his body to the car. He was smiling.
He said, “Are we back here again?” he leaned in dangerously close.
“You can take the bloody photo. Seriously, you – ” he was kissing me for the hundredth time this day, and unconsciously, my hands went up to grip his shoulders and he pried me away from the car, his hands around my waist and pulling me against him.
I didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t aware of a bloody thing only that I was kissing him back and molding my body against his. But he didn’t seem to be bothered from my weight because when he pulled away to breathe for a second, he chuckled. Our lips touched again and I went under, my senses dulling. My arms encircled his neck and the next thing I knew, I heard the sound of the camera.
I pulled away slowly, looking to my side and Travis burst to laughter. On his hands now, with his camera is a picture of me…and him…Oh, God. He kept both photos to his jeans pocket, still smiling. He said,
“In case you’d like to know, we’re still starting.”
I don’t want to live in this planet anymore. I’ll build a rocket first thing in the morning, and then choosing another galaxy to live in would be entirely preferable than –
“Our daughter’s blocking out again isn’t she, darling?” Mom asked Dad in a carrying voice. He chuckled mirthfully. “I wonder what happened today.” He looked at me pointedly.
I sighed and can’t help a smile escape on my lips. My parents are amazing. I would just have to make a perfect alibi for them to join me in my moving-out-of-the-galaxy campaign; I can’t possibly leave them here.
“Nothing happened, Dad. I was just thinking.” I shrugged my shoulders for added effect, hoping it would suffice for them.
“Thinking what?” he asked still, taking a sip of water. Mom joined in and said, “Don’t tell me it’s homework, Avery. It’s the weekend and you deserve a break.”
Right. So my parents are a wee bit sharp, but aren’t all are?
“I was just thinking about the typhoon of people tomorrow.” I shrugged and then added, “With all of them coming, I guess I just feel a nit strung.” Mom was pursing her lips to keep herself from smiling. What? What did I say? That speech was flawless! Dad chuckled deeply. Really, what’s going –
It’s not possible.
But there’s only one explanation. Only a single one. My eyes widened.
It can’t be!
“Mom, Dad, you see – Oh, God. How do I say this – ”
“When we found out what happened this afternoon, Ave.” Dad shook his head but he was smiling slightly, “I must say, we were indeed shocked.”
Oh my God. How could they know – oh, fuck! There must’ve been someone behind those blasted trees! Damn Travis to hell. Fuck it.
“Dad, I’m so, so sorry! Mom – ”
Mom spoke up first, “It’s okay, darling.”
Okay? They’re what? When I pictured this moment, it definitely wasn’t like this. I mean, for the love of God! I was kissing – Oh, shit. I can’t –
“If you don’t, uhm, mind – Mom how did you find out?”
“The principal gave us a call. Really, honey. You should’ve told us in the first place; we’d understand.”
My eyes widened as an uncontrollable wave of relief washed through me. Damn it, they’re talking about me cutting classes! Cutting bloody classes! I struggled against the urge to rise to my feet and cheer. Cutting classes, they’d hopefully understand. Kissing under bloody trees, they absolutely won’t.
Thank you, guardian angel.
“Yeah, uhm, about that – ”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, Ave.” Dad was saying, “But, in a way, we’re glad you’ve done that.” They exchanged smiles right then about God knows what.
Glad? Aren’t parents supposed to be outraged to heat this kind of thing? They should, right? Maybe Mom and Dad were just behind the times.
“We wanted you to have fun, once in a while. You always look tired, and those circles beneath your eyes, they’re getting worse. Ave, you don’t have to work so hard. You always get perfect grades, and as your Mom said, you deserve a break. Enjoy. You’re only a teenager once.” He grinned at me paternally.
I don’t work that hard! Maybe sometimes – okay, most of the time – but what am I supposed to do, then? Slack off? That’s just not appropriate.
“I have weekends off, Dad. The workload doesn’t seem much as bad, then.”
Mom raised an eyebrow, her topaz eyes sharp, “And I found some really interesting things on your planner. Please, honey, don’t tell me you’re making your classmates reviewers.”
Okay, maybe my parents aren’t so behind the times.
With the concerned look on their faces, I was positive they’ve been talking about this. Okay, relax. So I make them reviewers. It’s a gesture of kindness, right? It’s not that hard to do, anyway. Maybe at times they pile up, but I always get them done.
“They asked for some help,” I responded feebly, “And I figured why not?” I shrugged. “It’s nice to help.” I bit my lip and I just couldn’t say more. What else can I say, anyway.
“My dear,” Dad started, “If you love what you’re doing, then fine. We’re okay with it, but not too much. Not too much, okay? Everything has limits.” Genuine love and concern sprang from the both of them and I can’t help smiling.
“Not too much. Got it.” I nodded.
Dad winked and faced Mom again, “Where was I?”
“Your terrible golfing skills.” Mom’s faced glowed.
“Right,” Dad said sheepishly. “So, why don’t we just…”
As they drifted along with their talk, I ate my fish with much more gusto. That wasn’t so bad. I love my parents so much and I have no doubt that they love me, too.
While I ate, I let my thoughts move towards Travis cautiously, trying to assess where exactly I stand now in terms of our…thingy. Okay, so the guy’s attractive. Big deal; there are a lot of attractive Australians. My mind subconsciously conjured up his devastating smile.
So he’s attractive and sexy. A lot of people are like that. Really, it’s not like there aren’t 1.6 billion more guys around the world, right?
And he stole my first kiss. Now, that’s something against him. It’s my first bloody kiss for God’s sake. It’s supposed to be romantic! The sparks-fly-music-inside-my-head kind of romantic. It’s supposed to be memorable!
My mind reminded me of how I spent my time under the tree.
Blasted tree. So he kissed me today. Big deal. Maybe seven times, I wasn’t sure – aaargh, this is not helping. So, those kisses made up for the first one. What’s the difference? It’s still the same person, even if you turn the universe upside down.
More than made up for the first kiss, my mind hissed at me.
Shut up, brain.
Okay, so he’s an attractive, sexy guy who knows how to kiss. Big deal.
And he likes jellyfishes and penguins.
This isn’t helping at all. I drank water again, more slowly this time. I stared at my empty plate and tried to set my mind straight.
What am I even thinking, considering these things? But I can’t deny the horrid truth. So, I have a crush on him.
It’s bloody highschool! It’s practically normal to have one, right? This is so warped. I never had problems like this before, but then again, he hadn’t even shown up before. It’s a matter of logic. As I tapped my hand against my thigh, a stunning realization hit me on the face like ice-cold water.
I’m pretending to be his girl. An attractive, sexy and a good kisser’s girlfriend. Me.
No. It’s all crap.
This isn’t even the ideal relationship! Where do I start, oh wait. Why don’t we start with this little fact that the ‘relationship’ isn’t even real? And then we can tackle the others. Splendid. Just splendid.
Wait. What am I thinking? I cannot believe I just thought like that. It’s like I wanted…oh, fuck.
I do not want the bloody thing to be real. I do not. Not. I must be going crazy! Why would I even want it to be real? It’s like I don’t have standards at all – not that I don’t, because I do. I have high standards, trust me.
Think, Avery. Think. I took a deep breath. It’s just a crush. A silly little crush. Avoidable and temporary. And in a couple of months, this insanity will be all over. I pursed my lips and sighed.
Wait. Did I just sigh? This is ridiculous –
My phone rang and vibrated against my pocket and both Mom and Dad looked at me, slight curiosity on their faces. I slowly took out my phone, quietly praying it’s not Travis.
What the hell is he up to?! I looked up to my parents and started to excuse myself but Mom said, “Answer it here. It’s fine.” She smiled and I desperately kept my lips tight together; if I don’t I’ll be cursing like I never had before.
If I don’t answer it here, it’ll look suspicious. I gritted my teeth and answered the damn call, putting the phone on my ear.
“Avery.” As soon as I heard his warm, well-toned voice, my heart skipped beats. I’m sure patches of color are now on my cheeks, damn it. “What are you doing?” he asked and I knew immediately that something’s up. And I’m not sure I’d like to know what that something is.
“I just finished dinner.” I said as nonchalantly as I could. Why is he even asking? Why won’t he just say it?
“So, listen. I was wondering if you have something planned for tomorrow.” Millions of things are happening to me all at the same time. My body was humming. I don’t know what else to describe it but aaargh. I disregarded the fact that the ‘humming’ was from the sound of his voice. Maybe I have flu. Who could tell, right?
And why, why is he asking about tomorrow? Why?
“Why’d you ask?” he answered my question with confidence and an upbeat tone to his voice, “What do you say to a weekend with me on the beach?”
Before I even knew what I was doing, my mind went ahead of me and imagined Travis on the beach. Shirtless.
What am I thinking?
I licked my lips and tried to sound normal, “Uhm, you see, some relatives are coming over and it’s a family gathering, so…” Is it just me or did I sound disappointed? He seemed unfazed by this and purged on, with confidence still.
“That’s okay. Some other time, then? Same venue.” I could practically picture him, on a tropical beach, maybe, smiling. I cleared my throat. “Sure. You really didn’t have to call me, you know.” I heard him laugh and I felt an overwhelming urge to smile myself. He said, “It’s fine, Your Highness. Don’t worry. And don’t forget your list, okay?”
“Yeah, list. Right.” I was breathless. He responded, “So, bye now. And,” he paused and continued, “I had a wonderful time.”
Now I really can’t breathe.
WHAT? Did I just say that? I didn’t say that. I did not –
“Really?” he asked, half-laughing. “You weren’t so cool with it when we were walking back.” There was a slight question in what he said and the words tumbled out of my mouth, “No. I had a terrific time.”
There is no other explanation. I’ve become senile. At the ripe age of seventeen.
There was a pause on the other end of the line then he chuckled quietly, “Glad to hear that. Bye now. Take care.”
“Yeah, you too.”
The line went dead, but I was still holding the phone to my ear, in a trance. I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or both. My mind is buzzing from the ‘take care’ I just received. I returned my phone to my pocket and muttered absently to myself, “So he laughed. Big deal. If it wasn’t for that blasted tree – ”
I looked up in churning horror. Oh, GOD. How could I possibly forget about my parents?! Dad fixed me with a questioning look. What did I – oh my God. Why, the damned hell, did I insult a living organism related to plants with him on the same room? Why?
I hastily invented a speech, “I was saying that if it wasn’t do that blasted tree…ping, tripping incident. Not tree, like, you know, nature…” I bit my lip and my shoulders sagged in relief as he gave me a comforting smile. But Mom piped up, “Who laughed, darling?” I was instantly alert, my throat dry.
“Laughed?” I laughed, feeling like a moron. Mom replied, “You said ‘he’ laughed. Who’s ‘he’?” she looked directly into my eyes and I can’t lie. Not to my mother’s face!
“It’s your boyfriend, isn’t it?” Dad said out of nowhere. He smiled good-naturedly.
That issue. The irony hits me on the face like a brick. Here’s Dad, delusional over the fact that I have a boyfriend and then Travis comes up, being the fake one.
So far, I still don’t have a boyfriend.
“Actually, it’s just Travis.”
Immediately, sparks lit up my father’s face and he leaned forward, “So, the young man’s name is Travis? That’s quite a masculine name.”
Oh, God. He got it wrong! I opened my mouth to speak but my Dad wasn’t giving me a chance, “At least you’re not denying it now, honey. So what’s he like?” Dear Lord. I looked at my Mom for help, like I always do, but this time – this one time! – she was smiling in a way I couldn’t quite place. She said,
“Go on, Avery. Tell us.”